Santorum criticizes Ronald Reagan on Social Security

posted at 2:45 pm on January 5, 2012 by Tina Korbe

Gotta say, every time I read a headline that makes me think I’ll like Rick Santorum less, I just find myself liking him more. When I came across this article in The Huffington Post, I cringed to think Santorum might have taken a cheap shot at conservatives’ most revered modern hero. But he did no such thing. Instead, he made a valid point — that Reagan, for all his many victories, still established a troublesome precedent of quickly “fixing” Social Security instead of meaningfully reforming the program. The relevant excerpt:

Santorum outlined his stance on social security at the event, spending a good 10 minutes on the issue. In the process, he took aim at a revered Republican figure, knocking former President Ronald Reagan’s 1983 Social Security deal. Santorum criticized Reagan’s decision to raise both the retirement age and taxes, linking those choices to the nation’s current fiscal crisis.

“I love Ronald Reagan, but if I would point to one thing during his administration that he did a serious wrong, it was this bill, it was this Social Security fix,” Santorum told the crowd. “He brought the idea of increasing taxes now, which is always what the left wants to do. Increase taxes now and reduce benefits later.”

To be fair, the George W. Bush presidency taught observers just how difficult meaningful Social Security reform will be — and SS will actually be the easiest of the Big Three entitlement programs to tackle. No doubt the appetite for reform in 1983 was even less than it is now. Nevertheless, Santorum’s willingness to speak negatively about Reagan demonstrates his comfort level with his own core convictions — which, as I wrote this morning, undoubtedly include a belief that we need to reform entitlements, if not a belief that we need to eliminate earmarks.


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bopbottle on January 5, 2012 at 3:12 PM

You are welcome, I really hope some PA readers chime in. I think it’s pretty damaging, it reminds me of a certain Tony Resko deal

beacon on January 5, 2012 at 4:00 PM

I like Rick but this was a completely idiotic comment to make. Reagan did a remarkable job when you consider what he was really focused on and what he had to deal with in Tip O’Neil. As much as I like Santorum he couldn’t carry either man’s jock.

More and more Rick talks a good game but when you nail him down on policy his views are aligned with the Dole wing of the GOP, sipping on white wine at the country club. It’s a shame.

Inignort on January 5, 2012 at 4:02 PM

With regard to George w.Bush. 9/11 DID HAPPEN..

we don’t really know what would have happened during a GWB 8 year
presidency if 9/11 had not happened.

would we have invaded Iraq-probably not, would we have invaded Afghanistan-definily not.

would we have had to spend all this money on wars and homeland security-probably not.

BUT 9/11 did happen

gerrym51 on January 5, 2012 at 4:04 PM

The Reagan administration was fairly weak in terms of limited government. They had to deal with a hostile legislature. Reagan was more of a great propagandist.

Santorum is being dishonest because he’s comparing his rethoric vis-a-vis what Reagan has actually managed to accomplish. Reagan actually suggested to make Social Security voluntary.

If we apply the same standard to Santorum himself, and go by his record during the Bush years, then he’s to the left of everyone else in the republican primary and by a very healthy margin. Why should one take seriously a man who voted for increased spending and big government programs year after year and now claims he’ll lead on entitlement reform?

joana on January 5, 2012 at 4:06 PM

So when you say they ‘didn’t do anything’ you are LYING.

rayra on January 5, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Only one lying is you, I said didn’t do you anything about SS/Medicare which is right there in my quote you posted. I see you haven’t gotten over your angry, tough guy routine from LGF. You were pathetic back then and you haven’t changed.

lowandslow on January 5, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Earmarks aren’t inherently bad, but they can be abused. I see nothing wrong with representatives getting money back into their district that the federal government forcibly took from them.

drlax15m on January 5, 2012 at 4:08 PM

LOL, the Mittbot’s desperate attacks on Santorum get more hilarious by the second.

Need I remind you that Romney denounced Reagan during his televised debate with Kennendy in 1994?

Norwegian on January 5, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Santorum is being dishonest because he’s comparing his rethoric vis-a-vis what Reagan has actually managed to accomplish. Reagan actually suggested to make Social Security voluntary

OK, how is that “dishonest”…and if that was Reagan’s position, why didn’t he have the guts to push that position in the reform process…at least Bush had the courage to propose privatizing a portion of the system.

he’s to the left of everyone else in the republican primary and by a very healthy margin

As usual joana over over the top rhetorically…just a reminder…Romneycare..that’s a pretty big hurdle for even Santorum to jump over.

ironmarshal on January 5, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Loved Reagan. He almost personally won the Cold War even with Demoncrat traitors do all possible to stab him in the back. But Santorum is correct on this one. Outmoded thinking was involved.

Horace on January 5, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Reagan frequently caved on domestic spending in order got get the defense spending he wanted, including Star Wars. That was the DC compromise he mastered.

I was critical of him at the time on that program in particular. At least in the way he envisioned it as a shield from the Ruskies. Any strategic missile defense can be defeated with a low tech solution … building more missiles than it can handle. That just leaves us with a world of more missiles, and a greater use it or lose mentality. I worked in the USAF on related programs and my conscience about that was a big reason for why I separated.

However, as protection against limited arsenals like NoKo and soon Iran, for example, it is terrific.

MJBrutus on January 5, 2012 at 4:18 PM

I like Rick but this was a completely idiotic comment to make. Reagan did a remarkable job when you consider what he was really focused on and what he had to deal with in Tip O’Neil.

Inignort on January 5, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Yet Mitt is consistently vilified for getting ANYTHING done in Mass. with an overwhelmingly more liberal landscape.

Just sayin’

sidemeat on January 5, 2012 at 4:19 PM

I actually talked to Santorum at one of Hannity’s Freedom Concerts several years ago. He’s a pretentious man who gets annoyed when the ‘folks’ ask him any questions. Couldn’t stand the guy since, and he was my state’s US senator.

fogw on January 5, 2012 at 4:19 PM

I had to laugh when I read this. When I worked in the GWB administration, and GWB was pushing Soc Sec personal accounts, embracing some necessary changes in benefits, and scrupulously not attacking the D’s who were willing to fix the problem but wanted to raise taxes, old Reagan hands used to come in and berate us with the ideological purity shovel, as in: “How dare you talk about anything other than personal accounts! Reagan would never have even put benefit constraints on the table, because then the D’s would insist on tax increases!”

Which conveniently neglects the historical fact that President Reagan DID sign a Soc Sec reform bill with both benefit changes AND tax increases (and without personal accounts).

I’m in no way criticizing Reagan for striking the best deal he could, but it’s always amused me how current R leaders’ purity is always compared unfavorably to prior ones. The reality is that GWB’s push for Soc Sec reform was a far more ambitious push than anything even Reagan ever attempted (at least while in office).

Chuckles3 on January 5, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Reagan was a great President, but he not above criticism.

Ronnnie ain’t Jesus.

portlandon on January 5, 2012 at 4:32 PM

However, as protection against limited arsenals like NoKo and soon Iran, for example, it is terrific.

MJBrutus on January 5, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Agreed. Though I would like to add that although such systems wouldn’t be as effective against countries with arsenals like the USSR, in a nuclear confrontation it would still likely do, “some,” good.

Here is a completely hypothetical example, lets say you have a system that can safely handle 100 incoming missile strikes, and an enemy country fired 200 missiles made up of 100 nukes and a 100 decoys. Assuming you’re exactly as likely to hit either, your system would take those 100 nukes and reduce it to 50.

Still very devastating, but it’d still end up saving millions of lives, and would make it somewhat easier to respond afterward. That would be worth quite a bit of money and effort, though of course the caveat is as always, expense.

Well, expense and the international outrage it causes, but I don’t put much stock in international outrage. Cost, along with reliability, IS something such defense systems need to address however.

WolvenOne on January 5, 2012 at 4:40 PM

The debt of the United States is now greater than its GDP! And “social conservatives” are worried about who is having sex with who? This is unbelievable to me. Just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Kaffa on January 5, 2012 at 3:58 PM

The liberal mind. It sees no connection between runaway growth in parasite populations (of ANY creed) and fiscal woes.
The overwhelming majority of our Federal budget is spent on welfare / entitlement spending. Be it via morality or social security reform, the GOP, conservatives, are trying to resolve the crisis before things collapse utterly. But ‘Kaffa’ here sees no connection. Can’t even imagine that there could be one/several.

rayra on January 5, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Only one lying is you, I said didn’t do you anything about SS/Medicare which is right there in my quote you posted. I see you haven’t gotten over your angry, tough guy routine from LGF. You were pathetic back then and you haven’t changed.

lowandslow on January 5, 2012 at 4:07 PM

If anything I’m even angrier now, because liars keep lying. Your post was phrased to infer they did nothing at all. A lie of omission.

rayra on January 5, 2012 at 4:42 PM

I had to laugh when I read this. When I worked in the GWB administration, and GWB was pushing Soc Sec personal accounts, embracing some necessary changes in benefits, and scrupulously not attacking the D’s who were willing to fix the problem but wanted to raise taxes, old Reagan hands used to come in and berate us with the ideological purity shovel, as in: “How dare you talk about anything other than personal accounts! Reagan would never have even put benefit constraints on the table, because then the D’s would insist on tax increases!”

Which conveniently neglects the historical fact that President Reagan DID sign a Soc Sec reform bill with both benefit changes AND tax increases (and without personal accounts).

I’m in no way criticizing Reagan for striking the best deal he could, but it’s always amused me how current R leaders’ purity is always compared unfavorably to prior ones. The reality is that GWB’s push for Soc Sec reform was a far more ambitious push than anything even Reagan ever attempted (at least while in office).

Chuckles3 on January 5, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Question: Do you think it is an ego thing with former member of Presidential Administrations?

I say this because you seem to have two groups of former Reagan officials:

1. The ones that are now Liberal thrashing his economic policies and think the party has moved too far to the right. (Guys like David Stockman)

2. Conservative and Right of Center folks who act like Reagan was the only good president and therefore all Republican President’s must be identical to him in policy. (People like Peggy Noonan.)

Bluray on January 5, 2012 at 4:42 PM

To the point where he doesn’t support contraception. Not to mention bringing his stillborn son home, and sleeping with it. That’s fanatical and not mainstream in America.

Romneybots, winning friends and influencing people.

Continue Colmes’s line of attack mocking Santorum’s dead son. Please, tell everyone you know that will vote in an R primary how angry it makes you that Santorum actually felt for his son.

Hell, we might defeat Obromney yet.

18-1 on January 5, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Sorry, Rick, that Reagan didn’t get to “saving” the Democrat Ponzi scheme laughingly known as Social Security. He was a little busy taking care of inflation, interest rates, lowering taxes, creating jobs, rebuilding our military, fighting the spread of communism around the globe, and ending the cold war. I probably left tons of things out but needless to say Ronnie had a full plate.

Question to Santorum: What did you do about Social Security during your four years in the House and 12 years in the Senate?

Lizzy on January 5, 2012 at 4:51 PM

OK, how is that “dishonest”…and if that was Reagan’s position, why didn’t he have the guts to push that position in the reform process…at least Bush had the courage to propose privatizing a portion of the system.
ironmarshal on January 5, 2012 at 4:18 PM

It’d dishonest because it compares intentions with achievements.

If one assesses achievements, then Santorum should be challenging Obama from the left.

Reagan lost Florida to Gerald Ford in 1976 due to his proposal to make Social Security voluntary – which would basically terminate it.

joana on January 5, 2012 at 5:02 PM

If the republicans (Santorum and social conservatives) are going to try and tell people how they can have sex, they will not, and should not, win another election.

The implication that there is somehow a relationship between people having sex and the debt of the United States is tenuous at best, but mostly laughable. Try and attract the independent voter with that line.

No wonder the republican party is called the stupid party. We have Mitt, Santorum, and Ron Paul as the front runners. Unbelievable.

Kaffa on January 5, 2012 at 5:05 PM

And social security isn’t even the biggest problem. Medicare is, by far, the largest unfunded liability. I find it ironic that Santorum is criticizing Reagan’s social security reform while at the same time defending his vote for the largest expansion of Medicare since it’s creation.

ZGMF_Freedom on January 5, 2012 at 3:37 PM

I agree. Medicare is the largest unfunded liability. I’m not really a Santorum fan (ducks!) either. I guess I’m really for cutting government size by some ludicrous amount (say… 5%?) per year until they are roughly 1/2 the size they are now… (waits 5 minutes).. make that 49%… (waits another 5 minutes)… 48%… dang you, Obama!

Turtle317 on January 5, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Journalists have not given us any info on Santorum except that he is pro life and pro conservative social issues…and the candidate has re in forced that stereo type at the debates.

Has Santorum run anything? Can he walk in and be CEO for hire?

Everyone is up from poor roots at some point or another, does Santorum want his children labeled the children of the rich? or should he stay away from that language?

I hope he will start telling us about his experience running things at the next debate, we got the message that he is a social conservative.

Fleuries on January 5, 2012 at 5:18 PM

I actually talked to Santorum at one of Hannity’s Freedom Concerts several years ago. He’s a pretentious man who gets annoyed when the ‘folks’ ask him any questions. Couldn’t stand the guy since, and he was my state’s US senator.

fogw on January 5, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Gee, I guess that’s why he nearly won the Iowa caucuses–a year of pounding the pavement and getting all “annoyed” with the “folks” at his 381 town hall meetings.

KickandSwimMom on January 5, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Your post was phrased to infer they did nothing at all. A lie of omission.

rayra on January 5, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Yeah right, it was a lie of omission by specifically stating they did nothing about Social Security and Medicare. You’re idiocy knows no bounds.

lowandslow on January 5, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Totally unelectable. A waste of time and space. Hell, he can’t even win his own state.

Kaffa on January 5, 2012 at 3:01 PM

But how do you know that??? Once America see’s him in his fancy sweater vest, they are going to forgive him for being the dork at the front of the class, waving his arm wildly, desperate to impress everyone with his brilliance. It isn’t even His record that makes Santorum unelectable, it’s him. Just him.

BettyRuth on January 5, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Earmarks are fine. At least Congress spends the money instead of giving it to Obama to distribute to his buddies. Congress is supposed to do the spending for the government.

Still not seeing any solution to the entitlements atom bomb from Santorum here. I like the idea of young people being able to opt-out best. The only real solution that isn’t going to impoverish my children and grandchildren is to have less people getting in to the entitlement programs than are getting out of them (either through death or some opt-out mechanism).

TXGOP on January 5, 2012 at 6:17 PM

ITguy on January 5, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Well said.

Fiscal conservatism is a social issue. Fiscal policy impacts families, marriage, churches, etc.; and social issues, morality, character, and ethics all have economic effects. Bad fiscal policies lead to a rise in immorality & vice, and immoral or unethical politicians are more likely to spend others’ money for their own benefit. Why do you think political corruption and a dysfunctional culture go hand-in-hand?

The idea that social issues (abortion, homogamy, family values, etc.) and fiscal issues (budgets, tax policy, spending, earmarks, etc.) exist in mutually-exclusive sectors of reality is simply dead wrong. All social conservatives should also be fiscal conservatives.

It’s long past time for the social-cons/culture warriors to stop ignoring the social importance of fiscal issues and for the fiscal-cons to stop ignoring the economic importance of social issues.

Harpazo on January 5, 2012 at 6:39 PM

It’s long past time for the social-cons/culture warriors to stop ignoring the social importance of fiscal issues and for the fiscal-cons to stop ignoring the economic importance of social issues.

Harpazo on January 5, 2012 at 6:39 PM

I have a cure for what ails us. It’s called THE CONSTITUTION. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

gryphon202 on January 5, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Question: Do you think it is an ego thing with former member of Presidential Administrations?

I say this because you seem to have two groups of former Reagan officials:

1. The ones that are now Liberal thrashing his economic policies and think the party has moved too far to the right. (Guys like David Stockman)

2. Conservative and Right of Center folks who act like Reagan was the only good president and therefore all Republican President’s must be identical to him in policy. (People like Peggy Noonan.)

Bluray on January 5, 2012 at 4:42 PM

I’ve often wondered about this. As a former staffer myself, I suspect that part of it comes from wanting to defend and promote the record of the president and administration you served. I certaintly feel compelled to defend GWB’s policy choices quite often.

The thing is — this doesn’t need to extend to tearing down the next guy.

Chuckles3 on January 5, 2012 at 7:18 PM

You’re 100% correct. Nobody who loses a senate election in a landslide has any business running for president.

MA SENATE ELECTION 1994:

Kennedy 58%
Romney 41%

angryed on January 5, 2012 at 3:10 PM

And your point is? Romney did better than all of Snorkle-meister’s other senatorial opponents.
The War Planner on January 5, 2012 at 3:16 PM

His point was that he was responding to someone else, which you conveniently omitted. The original person said anyone who loses a senate election in a landslide has (no) business running for president. angryed showed that Romney lost a senate election in a landslide. Ergo, Romney has no business running for president.

cptacek on January 6, 2012 at 3:00 PM

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